What goes in a project management plan

What is a project plan?

First of all, a Gantt chart or bar chart is not a project plan. Yes, MS Project, like other software, may give the impression that such a diagram is a project plan, but it is not. A project plan is much more than just a Gantt chart.

In the last version of the PMBOK, the term “project plan” hardly appears, instead it is referred to as a project management plan. I am not sure whether this takes into account the fact that Gantt charts are being confused with project plans, nor am I sure whether the new terminology will find its way into the reality of project management, but the new term should be used here become a project management plan instead of a project plan.

A project management plan is the result of the integration of various sub-plans, which can also include the Gantt chart, but in truth there is much more to it:

  • Project management processes
  • Description of tools and methods
  • How work will be carried out to achieve the project objectives
  • How are changes monitored and controlled?
  • Description of configuration management
  • Communication between stakeholders and communication methods
  • Appointment management
  • Cost management
  • Quality management
  • Human resource management
  • Risk management
  • and much more

It is not about showing in every project what a project manager's repertoire encompasses; of course what is actually used is used, and not every plan has to have 50 pages. But the plan should make it possible for another project manager to take over the project documented in this way without standing there “naked”.

In other words: A Gantt chart only shows who is working on what and when. However, it does not say, for example, what risks exist in you and what measures are taken to reduce the likelihood of their occurrence or what should be done if they become a reality. A Gantt chart also does not tell us who receives a report and which stakeholders should be integrated into the communication processes.

Isn't everything clear, don't you have to write it down? There are some things to clarify as early as possible, instead of changing the course of a project later with additional costs, just because verbal agreements were not perceived or understood by all sides. And when a change occurs, it is also good to know who can have a say in whether this change justifies additional costs or a delay. All of this is in a project management plan, but not in a Gantt chart.

Project management is more than creating colorful bar charts. It means covering all facets of the project with the tools available (and hopefully also sufficient knowledge) and thus bringing the project onto a track from which it can no longer derail so easily. The project management plan provides the timetable for this.

Tagged as: diagram, plan, project management